Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland eager to tangle on Feb. 25 in Frisco, Texas

Miguel Cotto/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation

 

The first thing that came to mind upon hearing that Miguel Cotto and James Kirkland would tangle Feb. 25 in Frisco, Texas, was that this figures to be a bloody ring war. Neither has ever been a defensive wizard and both – especially Kirkland – have plenty of pop.

They played host to a news conference Monday promoting the bout, which will take place at Ford Center at the Star. It will be televised on HBO pay-per-view, which we don’t get at all, but it will be a vicious bout. That’s all but guaranteed.

Kirkland, of Austin, Texas, is coming off a third-round knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez in May 2015, and hasn’t fought since. He’s eager to make a better showing of himself.

“I didn’t give my all when I fought Canelo Alvarez,” said Kirkland, who has been in and out of trouble with the law. “I didn’t prepare the way I needed to, but I’m not going to bring any excuses to the table.

“This bout is to show my team, my fans and everyone who has followed and supported me, that James Kirkland is still in the race; Kirkland is still here to make a stand. Keep my name alive. … It’s going to be a war.”

Kirkland, 32, is 32-2 with 28 knockouts.

Interestingly, Cotto’s most recent bout – in November 2015 – also came against Alvarez, who won a 12-round decision over Cotto at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in a middleweight title bout.

“It’s good to be back,” said Cotto, 36. “I’ve missed boxing and all I can say right now is that I’m going to bring my best, every day, at every training session.”

Cotto, of Puerto Rico, is 40-5 with 33 knockouts.

This bout will be contested at a catch-weight of 153 pounds.

 

 

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All six TV fighters on Hopkins-Smith card successfully make weight

Bernard Hopkins

 

All six TV fighters successfully made weight Friday for their bouts Saturday night at the Fabulous Forum (on HBO).

Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), who will be in his final bout at age 51, weighed 174 pounds for his main-event bout against light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KOs), who also weighed 174.

The semi-main event will feature highly ranked featherweight Joseph Diaz Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs) of South El Monte putting his undefeated record on the line against Horacio Garcia of Mexico. Diaz came in at the 126-pound limit while Garcia (30-1-1, 22 KOs) tipped the scales at 125.8.

Also, cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (10-0, 9 KOs) of Ukraine weighed 199.6 pounds for his title defense against Thabiso McHunu (17-2, 11 KOs) of South Africa, who came in at 198.6.

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Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Sullivan Barrera ready to rumble Friday in Indio

Vyacheslav Shabransky Bernard Hopkins v Sergey Kovalev

Vyacheslav Shabranskyy/Photo by Getty Images

 

Golden Boy Promotions has its hands full this week. Not only is it promoting Bernard Hopkins’ final fight Saturday against light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. at the Fabulous Forum (on HBO), it’s staging Friday’s light heavyweight bout between Sullivan Barrera of Cuba and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy of Ukraine at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio (on HBO Latino).

It’s a big fight for both guys.

“Sullivan is one of the toughest opponents I have faced yet,” Shabranskyy said. “He’s faced fighters like Andre Ward and has gone the distance and has demonstrated his skill. Knowing that he needs this fight will make him even more hungry in the ring, and we are
expecting him to come forward.

“With this fight, I get the opportunity to face opponents like Andre Ward. But first things first; I have to finish Barrera.”

Barrera (17-1, 12 KOs) in March lost a wide 12-round decision to Ward, who Nov. 19 took Sergey Kovalev’s three world titles via narrow decision at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Barrera believes his rounds with Ward have made him a better fighter.

“I believe this fight is the most important fight of my career,” said Barrera, 34. “This fight will demonstrate that I am among some of the top fighters out there. My fight with Andre Ward has built me, and has given me the maturity to step back and think clearly. I needed that loss to win this fight.”

Shabranksyy, 29, is 17-0 with 14 knockouts.

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Terence Crawford sentenced to jail in Omaha over April body shop beef

Bud Crawford

Terence Crawford celebrates his 8th-round TKO of John Molina Jr. on Saturday/Photo by Sarah Hoffman, Omaha World-Herald

 

Junior welterweight boxing champion Terence Crawford on Thursday was sentenced to 90 days in jail in his native Omaha, Neb. The punishment stems from two misdemeanor convictions over a disturbance at an Omaha body shop in April.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, Crawford figures to serve 53 days. He was handcuffed and taken to jail.

Crawford in April did business with Extreme Custom Fleet & Auto. He reportedly wasn’t happy with the work, or how long it took, and tried to take the car without paying the balance of the bill by removing it from a hydraulic lift, causing some $3,300 in damage.

The shop owner said he felt threatened by Crawford and a group of his friends, though there was no violence nor threat of it, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

The newspaper wrote that Crawford showed up to court wearing a gray sweatsuit and Michael Jordan Nike high-tops. Upon sentencing him, judge Marcena Hendrix told Crawford, “You’ve continued to act as if you are above the law, and you are not.”

Prosecutors told the judge Crawford was “not truthful” during a presentence probe.

Crawford, 29, is coming off an eighth-round technical knockout of John Molina Jr. of Covina this past Saturday in Omaha. He must also serve two years probation and perform 120 hours of community service. He was ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution.

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Golden Boy Promotions signs Marlen Esparza to promotional contract

Marlen Esparza/Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions

 

Golden Boy Promotions on Wednesday announced it has signed 2012 U.S. Olympian Marlen Esparza to a promotional contract.

Esparza, of Pasadena, Texas, won the bronze medal at flyweight in the 2012 London Games, but she lost in the 2016 Olympic Trials. She’s 27.

“I am excited to get back into the ring as soon as possible and start climbing the ladder toward winning a professional title,” Esparza said.

Esparza has an endorsement with CoverGirl and has also done Spanish-language commercials for the likes of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

“Before she ever steps foot into the ring as a professional, Marlen Esparza has already established herself as a rising star,” said Oscar De La Hoya, CEO and chairman of Golden Boy. “At Golden Boy Promotions, we pride ourselves on developing fighters and transforming them into the best of the best. We look forward to doing the same with Marlen.”

Esparza was introduced by De La Hoya at Wednesday’s news conference at the Fabulous Forum for Bernard Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr. They will tangle in the light heavyweight main event there Saturday (on HBO).

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Bernard Hopkins, 51, still an intimidating force – at a news conference

Bernard Hopkins/Associated Press photo by Matt Rourke

 

Bernard Hopkins is the king of trying to win fights at news conferences. Even at 51, that hasn’t changed.

Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr. on Wednesday played host to a news conference at the Fabulous Forum ahead of their light heavyweight main event there Saturday night (on HBO).

This will be the final fight of Hopkins’ illustrious career, one that has spanned 28 years and included titles in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Smith, of Long Island, N.Y., has said all along that he is honored to be involved in Hopkins’ swan song.
Smith also wants to win, and he let everyone know that as he spoke from the dais.

“I know I’m going to be in there with a legend,” said Smith, 27. “But I work very hard, I’ve put many hours in the gym and a lot of sacrifices to get to this point, to where I am today. I’m just ready to get out there and put on a great show Saturday.

“He is a legend, but when he’s in there with me Saturday night, he’s just another opponent to me and I’m looking to get him out of there and stop him, be the first person to stop him in his career.”

Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), who will be 52 next month, wasn’t about to get that go without talking some serious trash. It included a reference to Kelly Pavlik, who Hopkins easily defeated in October 2008 at a catch-weight of 170 pounds. Pavlik was middleweight champion at the time.

Pavlik went back down to middleweight, defended his title two more times before losing it to Sergio Martinez. Pavlik, who had all kinds of personal issues, fought four more times and won all four bouts, the final one coming at the tender age of 30.

“I’m not going to wish the Kelly Pavlik on him (Smith),” said Hopkins, insinuating he ruined Pavlik’s career. “But what I’m going to do is, I’m going to spank him, teach him his ABCs and then send him back to Long Island, up the road from Philadelphia.

“And then one day, if he recovers mentally … mentally, then he might have something to salvage and go forward. See, that’s what I’m about. I’m a career-stopper to most of my opponents that talk like that.”

Interestingly, Smith (22-1, 18 KOs) had a strange look in his eyes, like he didn’t know what to make of Hopkins and his intimidation tactics.

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Jason Quigley stoked to have cracked the top 15 in middleweight division

Jason Quigley would seem to be getting relatively close to fighting for a world title/Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions

 

Anyone who has followed the career of Jason Quigley knows there is a strong chance the middleweight from Ireland will eventually win a major world title. He recently cracked the top 15 rankings – he’s ranked No. 14 by one organization – so he is well on his way.

Quigley, 25, on Saturday will attempt to continue his rise when he takes on Jorge Melendez (30-7-1, 28 KOs) of Puerto Rico. They’ll tangle underneath the light heavyweight main event between Bernard Hopkins and Joe Smith Jr. at the Fabulous Forum (on HBO).

Quigley on Tuesday via telephone spoke in excited tones about his ranking.

“That’s exactly where I want to be,” he said. “This is the stage of a career that I’m at, these are the steps that I want to be taking. And it’s all happening at the right time and at the perfect moment. I’m starting to climb that ladder, I’m getting my foot on the ladder and getting my feet in the door of the top 15 world rankings.”

Quigley realizes that along with being ranked comes more scrutiny.

“People are going to start seeing my name now, people are going to start recognizing me,” he said. “And people are going to start saying, ‘Who’s this kid?’ It’s up to me now to show everybody who I am, what I am and what I’m going to do.”

Quigley (11-0, 9 KOs) is now eligible to fight for a world title, but he’s still probably a couple of fights from that.

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Ringstar signs Mexican Olympian Misael Rodriguez to promotional contract

Misael Rodríguez

Misael Rodriguez/Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

Promoter Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Sports has signed middleweight Misael Rodriguez – a 2016 Olympic bronze-medal winner from Mexico – to a promotional contract. Schaefer recently signed U.S. Olympian Carlos Balderas of Santa Maria.

“I’m thrilled to be adding another promising young potential superstar in Misael Rodriguez to the Ringstar lineup,” said Schaefer, the former CEO of Golden Boy Promotions who recently founded Ringstar. “This is a young man who has overcome overcome every obstacle thrown his way.

“He is mentally strong, has great skills and I expect him to have a very long, successful career.”

Rodriguez, just 22, is stoked to hook up with Ringstar.

“After I came back from the Olympics, I knew that it was time to start my professional career,” he said. “I am excited to have signed with Ringstar Sports. I have always appreciated Richard Schaefer’s approach on developing talent into boxing stars.”

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Richard Schaefer likes the notion that he was missed during his time away

Former Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, center, looks on as boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr.  and Canelo Alvarez  pose before their 2013 fight. Schaefer left Golden Boy and is now starting Ringstar.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Promoter Richard Schaefer, center, said he found out he was missed during his time away from boxing/Photo by Ethan Miller, Getty Images

 

Promoter Richard Schaefer has spent more than two years on the sidelines after resigning his post as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions in June 2014. He didn’t go to a lot of fights during that time, but the few he did attend contained a message he really liked.

“I went to only a handful of fights during that time, maybe five or six,” said Schaefer, who is president and founder of Ringstar Sports. “I went to Floyd (Mayweather Jr.’s) fights, I went to a couple of fights in New York. And I was sort of touched by the kind of reception I got from the fans when I came into the venue, ‘Hey, Schaefer, we need you back, we want you back. Boxing is not the same.’

“The same with fighters. Fighters said, ‘We need you to create these events you used to create and the hype and everything which goes with it.’ ”

Schaefer is back in the saddle and will be co-promoting Saturday’s card at USC’s Galen Center that will be headlined by the featherweight title fight between Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens and champion Jesus Cuellar of Argentina (on Showtime).

Ringstar will also be co-promoting the Jan. 28 featherweight championship rematch between champion Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland and Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights (on Showtime).

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Carl Frampton: In spite of Leo Santa Cruz’s personal issues, he fought hard

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton: Winner, Scorecard and Reaction

Carl Frampton will take on Leo Santa Cruz in a Jan. 28 rematch in Las Vegas/AP photo by Peter Morrison

 

There has been some chatter about how difficult it must have been for Leo Santa Cruz to train for his fight this past July 30 against Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland. Santa Cruz’s father, Jose, was very sick from his battle with cancer, so it’s understandable if the younger Santa Cruz wasn’t entirely focused on the task inside the ring. (Jose Santa Cruz is now in remission).

Frampton, who took Santa Cruz’s featherweight title via majority decision that night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, concedes Santa Cruz had a lot going on from a personal standpoint. But he finds it hard to believe Santa Cruz could have fought much harder than he did.

“There’s no doubt that Leo went through a difficult time with his father’s illness,” said Frampton, who Jan. 28 will tangle with Santa Cruz in a rematch at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime). “I also know that Leo trained very hard anyway. He threw about a thousand (1,002) punches last fight and was throwing all the way to the end. You can’t throw much more than that, so I don’t think he’s going to improve his work rate.
“I believe he’ll come up with a different game plan, but I genuinely believe that I’ll be able to deal with anything he brings to the ring. It’s not going to be an easy fight, but I’ll do whatever it takes to win and I believe I will.”

 

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